Think dating in New York is the worst? A new reality show, “Dating Around,” is here to validate you.
Each episode of the Netflix series (out today) follows a different main “dater” through five awkward blind dates in just five days. At the end of the saga, the bachelor or bachelorette chooses the least cringe-worthy companion for a second meet-up. Unlike “The Bachelor,” there’s no host — and zero buildup. Viewers drop straight into each encounter, fly-on-the-wall style.
Co-creator Paul Franklin, of Tasmania, Australia, tells The Post he wanted to film in NYC from the outset.
“The city has such an eclectic and diverse group of people,” says Franklin. “Dating is . . . almost on steroids in New York.”
Co-creator Chris Culvenor, who’s also Australian, says that diversity and the sheer mass of singletons her makes dating uniquely interesting and challenging.
They wanted to “really capture that plethora of choice,” Culvenor says. In this city, “it always seems like there’s something else out there when you’re dating” — which can feel like both a blessing and a curse.
Culvenor says that he didn’t want to pick “the same sort of people” that you’d see on traditional dating shows. So while three of the show’s six episodes feature straight millennials, two follow LGBT dates — one with a gay man who’s a theater production designer, the other with a lesbian who works at Valentino — and another follows a widower in his 70s. “We wanted . . . [to show] how different people date in different ways,” says Culvenor.
Even with a varied cast, some city-specific dating struggles sprung up in multiple episodes.
‘Dating is . . . almost on steroids in New York.’
First, everyone seems stressed out by New York’s huge single population.
The idea of “You’re fun for now, but I’m going to always keep my eyes open for the next best thing” is pervasive here, says Lex, the production designer in Episode 3. He describes the phenomenon as “next-best-thing-itis.”
Victoria, a contestant on the first episode of the show, agrees. “I think sometimes people swipe past the best thing out there,” she tells her date, Luke.
Co-creator Franklin says he also saw a lot of New Yorkers putting up fronts over dinner.
“You go on a date, meet someone, they put up a facade of who they think you want them to be,” he says. Chalk it up to the local obsession with having a personal brand, or maybe their fear of going off-script. “You really see that people have a rhythm to how they date.”
Although daters behave like caricatures of themselves throughout the show, the most eyebrow-raising example comes in the first episode, when Tiffany from New Jersey announces to her date: “I like to be fat, I like to eat food, I like to be not socially acceptable. Just so you know” — and smacks her lips.
In the best-case scenario, “gradually, [daters] thaw out a bit and you get to see who they really are,” says Franklin. But he says getting past that layer often takes at least half the date, comparing it to “peeling back layers of an onion.”
Finally, there’s the distraction factor. New Yorkers, Franklin explains, are “ambitious” — “there’s a passion and a drive that fuels them.”
But those non-dating passions can make daters bad at prioritizing romance. Several of the show’s contestants moan about their busy lives, and in the fourth episode, a mom, Gloria, spends a chunk of her date texting while Leonard, the widower bachelor, looks on.
“Is this disturbing you? I’m worried now,” she asks him, still texting.
The vaguely good news about these New York dating problems is that they’re relatable to the rest of the world, says Franklin.
While the tics might be more intense in this city, “I imagine that a lot of people . . . will instinctively feel at home watching these dates,” he says.